Art spaces, Artists, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles

Entering the experiences of others

Imagine walking into a room where masses of cloth that appear to be stained with something like soot or even dirt are arranged over almost the entire floor. Huge paper panels hang from the walls, smeared with dull-coloured stains. Are these marks made by nature or the human hand? Are the surfaces weathered? Accidental? Angry? This was my response on entering the work of Carmen Argote, a Mexican artist living in the US, whose practice focuses strongly on her immediate environment, and her personal responses to it.

This exhibition, As Above, So Below, curated by Margot Norton at New York’s New Museum, is the result of two artist residencies the artist has undertaken in Guadalajara where she delved deeply into the rural and agricultural environments she encountered.

Responding to her surroundings through observation, bodily awareness, local architecture and agricultural activity, she has used materials from those environments directly in the works themselves. Organic substances like coffee, pine needles, avocado and cochineal are embedded into cloth and smudged onto paper through a process of dyeing, or applied to a support like paint. Reflecting an amalgamation of the corporeal and the spiritual in Argote’s practice, her exhibition’s title speaks to a belief in sacred geometry that sees Earth as a reflection of the heavens.

The scale of the installation seems to suck you in to taste the atmosphere she herself experienced. Argote’s work is a deeply felt response to her culture, new environments, and the political and economic relationship we all have with the land.

It was one of the memorable textile-based exhibitions I encountered on my recent trip to the US.

I loved the cluster of beautiful little textile collages I found by German artist Hannelore Baron at the Guggenheim‘s Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection exhibition. Small, thoughtful and quite pained, they are exquisite little assemblages of life experience.

Born in Dillingen, Germany, in 1926, Baron and her family fled to New York in 1941 to escape the escalating Nazi hold over Europe. Sadly the trauma inflicted on her led to mental breakdowns and claustrophobia as an adult and she lived out her troubled life in an insular and solitary way.

Her work embodies a deep sadness, interwoven with the fragile specialness of life and the uncertainties inherent in the human condition. It’s as though she has caught fragments of things while they were falling around her and cobbled them together in a way that both reveals and conceals her personal experiences and her inner turmoil of depression, claustrophobia and life-long breakdowns.

Beautiful little works in every way.

While in San Francisco it was a treat to accidentally stumble upon a beautiful, intimately scaled exhibition of lovingly mended central Asian storage bags at the de Young Museum. The Turkmen Storage Bag exhibition highlighted not only the different designs of cultural groups but the amazing mending evident on most of the pieces. I’m always drawn to mending for a variety of reasons so I was a sucker for this one. These pieces were lush and richly coloured. So important, so useful, and so laden with meaning, that the wear and tear, as well as the repair stitching, was simply and artfully magic.

Small and thoughtfully put together, this was another textile highlight of the trip.

I love the feeling of excitement that goes with chance discovery. Seeing how others respond to life experience is always an education in itself. What better way to do this than through engaging with art?

rhondapryor.com

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Art classes, Artists, contemporaryart, Exhibitions, Galleries, mending, repair, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling, workshops

Advance exhibition notice. Save the date!

Hello there.

I want to tell you about my upcoming solo exhibition Stories we tell ourselves. With the crazy-busy lives we all lead these days I thought I’d give you time to schedule it into your diaries if you can.

This body of work examines the relationship between worn and discarded cloth, their poignant associations with memory, and the narratives they generate. Each piece represents a unique story, imperfectly remembered, translated into ‘pictures’ of moments in time, and readings of relationships.

Here are the details:

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And here are a few images of work in progress. I hope they pique your curiosity!

I’ll be running a couple of textile art making workshops during the exhibition too. I’ll post more details closer to the opening (August 31).

Warm wishes,

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Artists, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Fragments and Patches

I want to share with you visual art and textile lovers a couple of intriguing articles I’ve come across of late.

The first is a piece in issue number 77 of Selvedge magazine, Keeping Body and Soul Together. If you don’t have access to a print copy you can see an abbreviated version of the article here, under the title Going Going Ge Ba. With the most beautiful photography by Mark Eden Schooley, the article by quilt expert Dr Sue Marks outlines the old Chinese practice of making ‘Ge Ba’, a type of textile collage. With up to 15 fabric layers held together with rice glue, the resulting pieces (roughly 40 x 60 cm) were pretty tough, and were cut up to sole shoes!

All kinds of fabrics scraps were used to make Ge Ba, anything worn out or no longer of use, old embroideries and even propaganda cloth. Perhaps they can be seen as a Chinese version of Japanese boro.

I think you’ll see why I love them. The compositions are striking textural abstracts, in much the same vein as boro.

Ge Ba collage

Image: Selvedge blog, Going Going Ge Ba, 27 September 2017

The other article I wanted to mention is also a Selvedge one. Painting with Wool, on their blog of September 27, features American textile artist Channing Hansen‘s organic knitted works. This guy is wild! His complicated compositions are made of various natural fibres he dyes himself, patch-knitted in rambling formations. His work process must be so frenzied!

Channing Hansen Marc Selwyn Fine Art

Image: Marc Selwyn Fine Art

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Image: Selvedge blog, Knitting DNA, 16 June 2017

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Image: Selvedge blog, Painting with Wool, 27 September 2017

Feeling inspired? Pretty amazing work, don’t you think?

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Artists, Exhibitions, Galleries, Inspiration, Studio practice, Textiles

Flowers on the brain

Some new work on the go in the studio. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s spring or I’ve been gripped by Modus Operandi Flora, but flowers have definitely caught my eye these past few months.

I’ve been playing with making flowers with velvet and voile which I’m in the throes of experimenting with in an en-masse kind of way.

The two images shown above are studio shots. Everything is very much in the development stage. Studio updates to follow.

Meanwhile – enjoy the view…

Below are some of the floral distractions I’ve loved of late. From the top: Hiromi Tango, AGNSW, kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove, Sarah Contos, MAASKosuke Tsumura, H&M, and Juz Kitson.

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Hiromi Tango at the Japan Foundation’s Eco-Anxiety – Holding a Deep Breath

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Embroidery details from the Asian Gallery at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

 

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Kids art installation at Gallery Lane Cove

Detail of a Sarah Contos work at Roslyn Oxley 9 Gallery, Sydney


 

 

 

 

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Beautiful details at Love Is…Australian Wedding Fashion at Sydney’s Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

 

H&M advertising poster

 

Juz Kitson at Sydney Contemporary

 

 

 

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Artists, Exhibitions, Galleries, Textiles, upcycling

It’s a wrap

Well, Sighting Memory has finished and its time to head back into the studio. The exhibition, with Sepideh Farzam at Gaffa Gallery in Sydney, was a fantastic experience. The gallery team at Gaffa are great to work with, and it was a real pleasure working with another artist who has such an affinity for cloth and feeling, and who produces such sensitive, unique work.

For those of you who were unable to make it to the gallery, you can see images of the works below. Most of these were taken by the very talented Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, 2017, reclaimed clothing, silks, pearl beads, thread, 203 x 110 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, detail. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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Sighting Memory, installation view. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

As mentioned in my previous post the exhibition focused on textiles and their ability to store and convey memory, a theme characterising both our practices.

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Familial, (detail), 2017, Belgian linen, reclaimed textiles, thread, hand painted timber frame, 45 x 35 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

My framed works were representations of people and relationships close to me. Using old textiles that struck me as meaningful and memory-charged, together with thread or yarn, I stitched and abstracted ‘portraits’. The combination of Belgian linen and hand painted frames make specific reference to the tradition of portrait painting.

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Verandah (detail), 2017, Belgian linen, reclaimed textiles, thread, hand painted timber frame, 45 x 35 cm. Photograph: Marty Lochmann.

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A Close Marriage, and Sepideh Farzam’s Principles, 2017, fabric, vest and thread, 91 x 114 cm.

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Sepideh Farzam’s Don’t Leave Me Alone, 2017 (left), fabric, pullover and thread, 58 x 148 cm, and Insomnia, 2017 (right), doormat, fabric and thread, 60 x 56 x 53 cm.

Sepideh’s work concentrates on female perspectives and extensively uses hand stitching. Her amazing work, Insomnia (pictured below), is an incredible piece – sadly, my photograph doesn’t do it justice.

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Sepideh Farzam’s Insomnia.

If you’d like to be informed of upcoming exhibitions and events please get in touch via the link at the top of the page. I’d love to meet you at one of these events.

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The artists. Photograph: Jon Johannsen.

 

 

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Artists, Exhibitions, Experiments, Studio practice, Textiles, upcycling

Sighting Memory exhibition

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After several months of experimentation, studio rearrangement and all kinds of work disruption my new exhibition is about to open. It’s a joint show of textile based work with my friend (an amazing and very sensitive artist) Sepideh Farzam.

Sighting Memory will be opening at Gaffa in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday 17 August, from 6 to 8 pm. I hope you’ll be able to drop in and have a look if you’re in town. The show runs from 17 to 28 August and is open Mondays to Saturdays (Gaffa: 1st floor, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney 2000, T: 9283 4273).

SIGHTING MEMORY invite 2 copyHere is a bit of info about the exhibition:

Identity and relationships, memory and emotion: some of the most explored themes in contemporary society. Observations of human relationships: deep, body-embedded memories of personal experiences. Combine these subjects with the re-use of old textiles and you have a contemplative and sensitive appraisal of life.

Sighting Memory is a joint exhibition of new work by artists Rhonda Pryor and Sepideh Farzam.

Human beings long for connection. The ability of cloth to hold traces of direct personal contact make it perfect memory stuff. It can hold traces of body shape, show unique signs of wear by its user, even bear an individual’s DNA. It’s a fascinating substance to work with.

While working across several disciplines as artists, we’re drawn to the significance of textiles and their ability to trigger a memory response. Fragments of old, worn clothing combine with other materials to draw attention to the uniqueness and intimacy of human ties and the feelings they spark. With a keen sensitivity to observation, Sighting Memory explores these themes in an abstract way, addressing identity and referencing portraiture.

Here are a few images of my experimentation and process leading up to the exhibition:

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Each work has been developed using Belgian linen and old textiles, in a reference to painting, relationships and personalities embedded in memory. I like to think of these works as ‘portraits’. Not everyone’s definition, I know, but I think its time for an update.

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Each frame has been individually hand painted to tie in with their ‘portrait’.

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Please pop in to see the show if you get the chance. I’d love to know what you think.

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Artists, Inspiration, repair, Studio practice, Textiles, Uncategorized, upcycling

The heirloom theory

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Donya Coward, Brown sitting Rabbit – photograph from her website

Do you have any artists or makers who do it for you? Are they an inspiration for your principles and practice?

I often find research addictive. One find leads to another. Before you know it you’ve got a chain of inspiration and empathic appreciation for the work of others that informs your own work and sits comfortably with your beliefs and principles.

Discarded materials, ratty old preloved garments, mending, and disparate bits & pieces often have reuse potential that goes unheeded. Memory is embedded into everything. These examples of creative work are very much aligned with my own philosophy and love of materials.

Slow work.

Hand work.

Considered.

Ethical.

I say that (ethical) because I firmly believe in the Less Is More theory.

Less consumption, more human contact, less fast-paced living. Purchase something of great quality that you love, that will last and last – and take pleasure in handing it on to others when the time comes.

Donya Coward is an artist whose work is an exquisite example of what I like to call ‘the heirloom theory’. She takes bits and pieces of very different materials and turns them into sculptures and other textile art that are brilliantly handworked treasures. You can see more of her incredibly detailed work here.

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Celia Pym, Norwegian Sweater – photograph from her website

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Celia Pym, Hope’s Sweater, 1951 – photograph from her website

Celia Pym is a UK artist whose penchant for darning and mending is a quirky and beautiful way of extending the life of garments and objects. In her hands anything textile can be preserved in a way that gives a refreshing and individual twist to its existence. You can see more of Celia’s unique projects here.

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

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Mayer Peace Collection – image from Instagram

Berlin designer Christine Mayer’s practice is one I’ve watched for a while. She is superbly skilled at repurposing textiles in a way that’s individual and deftly structured. Her work extends to theatre costumes as well as fashion. Check out her work here. I’m happy to say I’m a proud owner of one of Christine’s pieces, bought during trip to Berlin in 2012. Timeless and beautiful.

I love finding inspiration in the efforts of like-minded creatives. There is satisfaction in finding similarities in practice, using your own resources creatively, and sharing ideas, whatever limitations might be in place.

Who are the practitioners you find inspiring? Does your list keep growing? Let’s compare notes……

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